There is no doubt that the cloned human embryo is a human being. From the very beginning of its existence, it is a unique human life that will eventually mature through its natural progression in which every person has joined. It is at the entrance of the continuum of human life. This human life has commenced the natural vocation of fetus, birth, maturation, and death. Unlike those of us who continued this natural progression, the embryo produced for “research” is destined for a planned, premature death when the stem cells necessary for the research to proceed, but which are also necessary of the embryo to continue his or her life, are removed from the embryo.
In many discussions by intelligent, often highly educated people throughout the world today, the reality and the science of human embryology is often disregarded when the case of embryonic stem cell research is under discussion. I suspect that a source of this view is related to the thinking—or lack of thinking—taken by pro-abortion advocates who use language that denies the scientific reality of the human life the procedures which they advocate will take. While formulaic norms about human existence may be limited in both value and scope, there is something to be said about the intersection of right reason of the Catholic intellectual tradition and the formulation of ethical norms that guide the moral reasoning essential to sound scientific research.
Does the right reason that directs us to the transcendent, moral order justify research on embryos that inevitably leads to their destruction? The drive to conduct such destructive experimentation on the nascent human life of cloned embryos is strong in our world today. But such research, if it were permitted to continue, defies the dignity to which each human being, each person is entitled.
To ban “reproductive” cloning only, without prohibiting “research” cloning, would be to allow the production of individual human lives with the intention of destroying these lives as part of the process of using them for scientific research. The early human embryo, not yet implanted into a womb (natural or artificial), is nonetheless a human individual, with a human life, and evolving as an autonomous organism towards its full development into a human fetus. Its location does not determine the reality of its ontological nature. Destroying this embryo is therefore a grave moral disorder, since it is the deliberate suppression of an innocent human being.